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Divorcing a spouse's health insurance plan

New Yorkers can find many reasons for putting off a divorce, such as the difficulty of finding a new apartment or giving up one that is rent-controlled. The fear of losing health insurance is another reason why some couples may put off the inevitable, and this reason is not unique to New Yorkers. Many people across the country have struggled to find health insurance plans that are affordable, while others have struggled to obtain health insurance at all due to pre-existing conditions.

Marriage may have offered some individuals the opportunity to easily get health insurance through a spouse's insurance plan. Spouses whose jobs provide health insurance to their partners may find themselves facing a contested divorce if they threaten to stop providing this benefit to their spouses otherwise.

In some instances, spouses will agree to continue providing health insurance to their exes following a divorce in exchange for other assets. Individuals in need of health insurance may find themselves compelled to sacrifice a great amount just to ensure that their health is protected. One attorney recalls the struggle of one of her sick clients who was dependent on his wife's insurance. The client made serious concessions in exchange for his wife's agreement not to divorce him for eight years and to keep paying his insurance even if she remarried.

Now that the Affordable Care Act is in place, it may be easier for some people to separate themselves from their spouses--and their spouses' insurance plans. Particularly for younger individuals, the ACA may provide a more affordable alternative to COBRA, which was the pricey plan that typically gave divorcees access to health insurance after a divorce. People in New York who have questions about how they can transition to independent health insurance during a divorce may want to consult a local family law attorney.

Source: Philly.com, "Insurance no longer may hinder divorce", Robert Calandra, March 03, 2014

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